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Mayflower, Day by Day - Tuesday, 16 February [1620]/21

16 Feb 2021 2:59 AM | Soule (Administrator)

At anchor in harbour

Cold and clear.   More on the Plymouth colony’s first physician: Samuel Fuller’s inventory upon his death in 1633 included “a surgeon’s chest with the things belonging to it” valued at £5.  His surviving correspondence [Bradford’s Letter Book 56-59] show an educated man, although the details of where and when he studied are unknown.  His inventory also included about thirty books valued at £3 2s 6d; they were mostly Bibles and other religious works, but there were also “physic books” and other practical reference works (see Jeremy Bangs, Plymouth Libraries 24-30 for a list of the titles).  Baptised in Redenhall, Norfolk, on 20 February 1580/81, the son of Robert Fuller (MQ 86 [2020]: 35), he was a deacon of the Leiden congregation, where he worked as a say [wool] weaver.  At 40, he must have been one of the older men on the voyage. While Bradford described him as “a man godly and forward to do good, being much missed after his death,” this estimation was not universally shared.  Thomas Morton, Anglican lawyer and all around wiseguy (see my review in the upcoming issue of the Mayflower Quarterly), thought little of Fuller’s medical skills, described him as a quack and called him “Doctor Noddy” (New England Canaan 297-299, 309: this is the same author who referred to Myles Standish as “Captain Shrimp”).  Fuller married three times (Alice Glascock [d. 1613]; Agnes Carpenter [d. 1615]; Bridget Lee [marr. 27 May 1617, d. 1667] joined him in Plymouth later).  Samuel Fuller was the younger brother of Edward Fuller, also a Mayflower passenger, and through his second wife was related to William Bradford, William Wright and others in the Carpenter family (see Pilgrim Migration 93-95, 524 and Sue Allan, In the Shadow of Men 69-76).  More on his brother Edward next week.

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